I have just been lent a book on industrial locomotives by an old friend, who also showed me his latest build of a J94 in 7mm scale.
Now, obviously the J94 is "ex rattle can" at present, but Ozzie doesn't like to weather his models anyway and I can't say I blame him.
Weathering seems to have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous these days. To the extent that you can even buy something off the shelf that some little Chinaman has already squirted dirty thinners at for you.
Now my friend and I tried to think of when we'd ever seen a loco in such a state of decrepitude as most of the filthy, dust covered and over rusted victims of a dozen books and a thousand products now represent on the average model railway.
He lived in the North East coal mining regions as a kid and I lived on the edge of East London grime, but when Brittanias and A4s went thundering through my local station, they were shiny, in either direction. So was the DMU on the branch line and so were the Standard 4MTs on the parallel line. And the full NCB livery was always on show proudly up Ozzie's neck of the woods too. You didn't get covered in muck when you were jostled for the electric commuter trains or the underground once you got to that filthy hole, London. OK, a little of the shine may have worn off the paint, but they didn't look like they lived their entire lives in the Cornish china clay district without ever being washed! And that's the look that most people are giving their train sets these days, often at great expense by paying someone else to do it, too!
Everything looks terminally dusty now. Irresponsibly rusty. Everything looks like it has already spent years in Barry Island waiting for the ernests to save the money to buy it and take it back to some upstart "heritage" line.
Now, we all know the track level bits will be a bit oily/greasy/dusty, especially on a diesel or electric commuter train, but you shouldn't see panels so racked with rust that they look ready to drop off through perforation any time. Not that I look at diesels much anyway.
But the thing that interested me and Ozzie was how clean most of the locos in the book of industrials were. Never worse than semi shiny (oily rag cleaning tricks, see?) with, at worse, a few limescaley leaks from water/steam fittings and a bit of grime below decks. And all in working situations, not ex Works for the company photographer, either, but working.
So, come on, you powders, pigments and expensive double action, work if you're bloody lucky airbrush fans. Have a good look at some photos of the real things. Don't pick out the exceptional, one way or the other, just have a gander at the everyday ordinary loco and ask yourself if all it needs isn't just just a coat of semi-matt varnish and a few streaks.
Unless, of course, you are on a bragging fight as to who can spend the most with someone who takes a small fortune for messing up your loco and stock "professionally".